Environmental factors influencing the spatial distribution of dinoflagellate cyst assemblages in shallow lagoons of southern New England (USA)

Vera Pospelova, Gail L. Chmura, Henry A. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Surface sediment samples from 24 sites within eleven back-barrier lagoons of Rhode Island and Massachusetts (USA) contain abundant (200-6000 cysts cm -3) and diverse (up to 40 taxa) dinoflagellate cyst assemblages. The lowest cyst concentrations and diversity are observed in lagoons with low salinity (< 10). The pattern of spatial distribution of dinoflagellate cysts in these shallow estuarine environments is described. We assessed the relationship between the available multi-year water quality data and the composition of the dinoflagellate cyst assemblages using canonical correspondence analysis. Temperature and salinity are found to be the primary abiotic factors influencing cyst distribution in the coastal lagoons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-34
Number of pages28
JournalReview of Palaeobotany and Palynology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to M.J. Head and A. de Vernal for discussions on the taxonomy of dinoflagellate cysts and technical support. Special thanks are due to R. Crawford, I. Valiela, C. Weidman, V. Lee, the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Pondwatchers of Rhode Island for their dedication to estuarine research and for sharing with us their data on water quality conditions. Fieldwork was partially funded through a Geological Society of America student fellowship. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Fonds pour la Formation de Chercheurs et l’aide à la Recherche (FCAR) of Quebec. This is Contribution No. AED-03-027 of the USEPA Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Atlantic Ecology Division. The research described in this paper has not been subject to agency level review. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use by USEPA.


  • Dinoflagellate cysts
  • Estuaries
  • Nutrients
  • Salinity
  • Temperature
  • Waquoit Bay


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